Only A Second Draft

Only A Second Draft

I’m not finding writing all that easy at the moment.

My current project is a second draft of Butterfly of Night, the novel I first wrote this time last year for July Camp NaNoWriMo. I set myself a Camp target of 40k for the second draft and if we’re going by that, I’m well ahead of target — my hope is to finish the (c.100k) novel this month, though, so that’s merely a nominal target.

It’s partly the plot. Since I didn’t really plan it the first time around, there are several important plot points that make no sense. The characters have no motivation whatsoever to do what I made them do, much as I have no motivation to get up in the morning — but those plot points are somehow crucial to the novel. If I take them out because they make no character sense, the plot falls apart. But while they’re there, none of my characters are even vaguely consistent.

So that is very much a problem; I’ve drawn mindmaps, written endless lists of possibilities, asked beta readers who read the first draft — everything I can think of to fix this plot point — and so far I haven’t got a solution. But it’s okay. I have a few more chapters to write before I absolutely have to fix that thing.

But it’s partly that I’m too hung up on making this draft good. I know I am. It’s one of the biggest problems I have with my writing at the moment: I keep taking it all too seriously. And while it’s good to want to make things better and not to be satisfied with substandard writing, it’s getting in the way of me writing anything.

I keep becoming discouraged, convinced that everything I’m writing is useless. Sometimes, the thought of pursuing publication is an encouragement, a motivation, but at the moment all it does is make me endlessly aware of how bad I think my opening chapters are. I need to stop taking it so seriously, but I can’t make myself.

I’ve stuck a post-it note on my laptop: IT IS ONLY A SECOND DRAFT — just get it done and fix it later. Which I think is important. Two drafts is not very many, especially when you’re fiddling with the plot as much as I am this time. I can’t expect it to be finished at the end of this.

Plus, I need to stop making myself write when I’m exhausted or unwell, because that always just makes me and the novel worse. Not worth it for the extra 200 words; I’ll probably only cut them anyway.

Sigh. It’s proving a stubborn monster, this book. I’ve been thinking about it for ages, trying to figure it out, but that doesn’t seem to make the editing process any smoother, and however many post-it notes I stick on my laptop I don’t seem to be able to be content with it. Any of it. Nothing about it is what I want it to be.

It’s a common enough problem for writers, but I was hoping someone out there might have some ideas on how to solve it. I eagerly await your comments… and in the meantime, I’m going to go and hunt for some more painkillers, because I feel terrible today.

I think I overdid it shelving books yesterday, but hey, I got to the end of the alphabet. Success. Even if I’ve been in bed all day today. That’s how it works, right?

2 thoughts on “Only A Second Draft

  1. In the same boat, but with a rewrite / first draft. But you already knew that.
    Still, this is … surprisingly motivating. Even if i have a harder time making myself write than I do not doing so.

    Drafting isn’t fun. But killing each other with the finished products will be! How’s that for motivation?

  2. I COMPLETELY understand; certainly don’t have any answers and insight, unfortunately, but I completely understand. In my “Writing for Health Professionals” class, which made me FALL IN LOVE w/ writing, the best advice the professor gave us was, “Just simply write”; the rest will come! Best of luck, and I’ll look for more from you!

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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